Nature's Christmas Ornaments

August 4, 2023

I didn't put up a Christmas tree this year, or do any decorating.  No special reason not to, some years I just don't.  Last year I spent several happy hours photographing the tree (see last Christmas' blog posts), but this year time seemed to get away from me and the ornaments never made it out of storage.

But that doesn't mean there wasn't some Christmas decoration of another sort going on. 

A few days before Christmas, there was a sleet storm that covered just about everything in a thin layer of ice.  The extremely cold temperatures that followed ensured that the ice would stay awhile. 

Backlit by the sun, the ice on the trees and fences made for magnificent scenery.  Everything glittered, sparkled, and shone. 

I tried several times to photograph the trees, at different times of day, in different types of light.  No matter what I did, the results were just ho-hum, nothing special; the images looked pretty much like plain old snapshots that anyone could've taken with any point and shoot camera. 

I'm not much for winter photography, I really don't like going out in the cold.  But on Christmas Eve morning with the temperature at 9 below zero, I decided to make one more try at capturing the artistry of the ice.

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I was intrigued by the thin drooping branches of the river birch in our back yard.   Delicate, even more fragile in the cold, the ice had caused many of them to break off. 

The sun shone through the ice like it was fine crystal; a gentle breeze made the branches move and sparkle.  So instead of trying to photograph the big picture, so to speak, of trees and landscape, I decided to focus on the details like the slender ice-covered twigs.

And the focus was indeed a challenge.  Auto focus doesn't like thin lines, especially when there are a lot of them and even more so when they're moving.  The camera can't decide what it should be looking at and becomes very confused.  Manual focus is the answer, but my eyes aren't so young anymore and I've become lazy with the convenience of modern cameras.

Perfectly sharp or not, the resulting images please me a great deal.  Sparkling, glittery, and jewel-like, they make me think of Christmas lights.  I love the softness of color, the bokeh created by the sun shining through the ice.  Nature's own Christmas magic!


Merry Christmas & my best holiday wishes to you all!


Technical data:  Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm L f/1.2 @ 2.0, ISO 125, 1/4000s

© 2013 Vicki DeGruy, all rights reserved.

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